Ask Wizards

Posted in Arcana on May 26, 2015

By Blake Rasmussen

Blake is the content manager for, making him the one you should email if you have thoughts on the website, good or less good (or not good). He's a longtime coverage reporter and hasn't turned down a game of Magic in any format ever.

Ask Wizards was long the purview of Mike McArtor, our recently passed copy editor, and so it has been a while since we've asked the Wizards much of anything.

But, given that our Tumblr has been up and fielding questions for some time now—from the practical to the ridiculous—it felt like it was time to revisit this venerable column concept. And since we also have four very responsive employees fielding your questions on Tumblr, we've never had more material to work with!

No matter if you're into lore, gameplay, game design, or just asking ridiculous questions, there's a Magic Tumblr for you.

Matt Tabak, rules manager, really tall

Q: Are the rules able to reference "Non-loyalty counters," "Non-charge counters," or some other similar thing?—gobeast37

A: The rules aren't as dumb as people seem to assume they are. Yes, "counters other than [NAME] counters" is a concept they can grasp.

Q: Do you audibly groan when a design team member's name shows up on the caller ID?—bspeed56

A: It's especially weird because I sit within like 20 feet of each of them. Like, why are you calling me?

Q: Manifest Question: If I manifest a Profaner of the Dead and I pay the mana cost to flip it face-up, can I utilize the exploit ability?—zombeemike

A: No. Exploit triggers when the creature enters the battlefield. A manifested permanent that turns face-up didn't just enter the battlefield. It's been on the battlefield for at least a little while.

Doug Beyer, creative guru, tea time advocate

Q: So a post on Mark Rosewater's blog got me wondering. What exactly was Gideon hoping to do by seeking help from the Boros? It's not like he could take Aurelia and the Legion with him. Was he originally looking for Planeswalkers and got tied up with the Boros? Does he plan on summoning, as you've said in the past, "Aurelia-ness" and "Legion-ness?"—gutterstorm

A: As a result of formative experiences in Gideon's early life—which you'll learn about very soon with Magic Origins—he has become someone who can't turn his back on someone in need. He is someone who actively seeks out threats to innocents and who puts himself in the way.

He certainly gets along with the Boros. He admires their principled stance combined with their take-action strategies, and I think they inspire and energize him. But I think his true motivation there was that there was a situation in which he could help. As long as there's someone suffering, I think he truly has a hard time passing that up, even if there's a problem of greater scale elsewhere. That has potential to be a major theme with Gideon.

Q: How far ahead do you work? What year would we be likely to see the stuff you're working on right now?—quincognito

A: We work on many projects simultaneously, all with different schedules and release dates. While we're finalizing names and flavor text for one set, for example, we're writing concepts (art descriptions) and commissioning art for sets further out, while working on worldbuilding writing for projects further out than that, while working on brainstorming and planning for things even further out than that.

Right now, we are actively working on some stuff that won't see the light of day until 2018 or 2019, but meanwhile, we're also putting finishing touches on sets that will release within the next year.

Mark Rosewater, head designer, part-time birthday wisher

Q: Hi Mark! It's my birthday today, and I was wondering if I could get some trivia on the devour mechanic. It's my absolute favorite!!—skyraiderofvt

A: Devour was designed by Ken Nagle when he led the Jund design team. For a while, we were going to keyword another mechanic and write out devour, but that mechanic fell through and we went back to keywording devour.

Happy Birthday!

Q: My birthday is Friday, and I was wondering if I could get any fun facts on one of my favorite squirrel-creating cards, Deranged Hermit. Thanks so much! And have a good Memorial Day weekend. Don't forget to thank a vet!—detuanif

A: I made Deranged Hermit as a tribute to Squirrels. The card later helped Aaron Forsythe became a member of the U.S. National Team.

Happy Birthday on Friday!

Q: The Alpha manual tells a story about the game's first ever Planeswalkers: Worzel and Thomil. Could they ever get their own Planeswalker cards?—waldfield

A: We talked about it for Time Spiral.

Q: "We wanted the mechanic to encourage attacking as that's what makes the game end." You just made mill decks cry!—xraphael75

A: Mill decks know what they did.

Gavin Verhey, designer and the best-dressed man in the building

Q: I was looking over your McArtor's Mentions for this week, and I noticed that a few of them had Snow-Covered lands. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out why any of the decks used them. Am I missing something?—cannotwynn

A: Outside of having a card like Skred, there are very narrow instances where you might want to Gifts Ungiven for two basic lands of the same type, or perhaps your opponent has a Pithing Needle while all of your lands are granted an ability.

But mostly, it's just for style points. :)

Q: Do you think Modern Masters Constructed would be a healthy format? Or would it just run rampant with degenerate strategies?

A: Sounds like it would be fun to try at least once!

Wizards Magic Tumblr, managed by the community team/secret hip-hop dance troupe

Q: How large is the Eldrazi Titan Kozilek?—take-on-meme

A: Kozilek is so large that when his beeper goes off, people think he's backing up.

Kozilek is so large that he jumped up in the air and got stuck.

Kozilek is so large that when he gets on a scale, it says "to be continued."

Kozilek is so large that his belly button has an echo.

Q: This may have been asked, but I can't recall finding a recent answer. Are there still tours available for the Wizards HQ?—serrasilverbrush

A: We do not offer public tours of the building, unfortunately.

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